Chris Packham lives in the New Forest with his two miniature poodles, Sid and Nancy (named after Sid Vicious, the bassist with the Sex Pistols, and Sid’s girlfriend) and part-time with his partner. We are reminded of that during Autumnwatch 2020 which, due to the pandemic, is being filmed in multiple locations with the presenters spread across the UK. Chris, however, is broadcasting live from his home turf in the New Forest, alongside his stepdaughter Megan McCubbin who has also been living with Chris this year.
But, for a man who we only ever see immersed in nature sharing his passions and knowledge for the natural world, what is his home like?
In 2019, Country Living visited Chris in the New Forest to interview him about his career and campaigning and, with that, we saw a different side to the presenter.
Chris certainly knows what he likes at home – and black and white does not come into it. Rooms are a riot of character and colour, lavished with contemporary furniture, punk-inspired art and books. There’s a rustic charm, too – the ceilings are lined with wooden beams.
Two cabinets with Mondrian-inspired doors – red, blue and yellow rectangles with thick black lines – guard the walls. On one, stand eight bulbous red Holmegaard vases, a fraction of Chris’s collection. “Once I start, I need to have the whole set,” he told us while adjusting one so that they line up. “It’s got a bit cluttered, I don’t like clutter.”
But there’s evidently clutter, and then there’s stuff. Each inch of wall provides more space for art, including a tapestry of a polar bear with a seal at his paws (by craftivism artist, Crapestry) and an oversized American dollar bill featuring the face of Saddam Hussein (Sadamned by the street artist, D*Face). “I’ve always liked art that appears cosy, but has a darker [meaning],” said Chris, giving a detailed tour.
Chris’s partner, Charlotte Corney, who runs the Isle of Wight Zoo, types beside us on a round glass table. She stays here three days a week, bringing her two giant rabbits in her luggage on the ferry.
“It’s a bit of a weird dynamic,” says Charlotte cheerfully, “but we like our own space.” If they were to live together all the time, there would be the small matter of decorating. No trips to IKEA for Chris and Charlotte, who might end up as the archetypal couple having the argument of a lifetime in the carpet aisle. Four circular rugs, in retro Fifties and Sixties designs, overlap in the centre of the room.
“They’re from eBay,” says Chris. “I like bright colours. “I’ve always liked them, so most of my furniture is very brightly coloured. I don’t like visual silence.”
Many might like Chris’s aesthetics of cacophony, but he doesn’t like all noise. He finds much stimuli – that of the modern, urban world – overwhelming. London Tubes are a no, as are most parties. The thatched cottage he has rented for 12 years is pleasantly secluded, surrounded by 28 acres of woodland. “It’s perfect for a hermit,” says Chris, looking out the window.
You can see Chris and Megan on Autumnwatch at 8pm on BBC Two. More info here.
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